The Darien High School Guidance Department strives to provide optimal educational planning through academic, career, and personal counseling while providing parents and teachers with information to help in our joint endeavors of assisting the development of the individual student.

Applying to College: A Four Part Process

Part I:    The Guidance Office  

  • Step 1 – ESSENTIAL FIRST STEP:  Student will file Transcript Release Form with guidance for each and every transcript to be sent   (at least 15 days from first deadline)
  • Student provides counselor with NACAC form and with a personal resume  or updated Activity Form 
  • Counselor will write recommendation
  • Office will mail transcript, recommendation, resume, form, and school profile

Part II:   The Teacher Recommendations

  • Unless specifically directed otherwise, the student will provide an addressed, stamped envelope and appropriate form (if  there is one) to each teacher for each college (allow a minimum of 15 school days for the first recommendation)         
  • The teacher will mail the recommendations directly to the college.

Part III:  The Student Application

  • Read ALL directions and follow carefully.
  • Fill out each application carefully and thoughtfully. 
  • Keep a copy.
  • Write the ESSAY.
  • Mail application

  Part IV:  The SAT information.

  • It is your responsibility to contact the College Board to send your scores to each of your colleges.  If you have old SAT IIs under Score Choice, you must release the ones you wish to be a part of your permanent record.
  • And that’s it!
  • Remember:  Only ONE Early Decision is allowed


Planning Your College Application

By the fall of senior year you should have completed most of your research, and narrowed your list to 6 – 8 colleges.  You should have taken the ACT or SAT in the spring of junior year, or registered for the ACT or SAT for the fall of senior year.  Now it is time to begin submitting applications.


There are many pieces that make up a completed college application.  It may seem overwhelming to consider them all at once.  Below is an explanation of each component of the application, and its role in the process:

1. The Application

Students may apply to colleges by one of two methods; online or paper application.  You may apply online through the university’s website, download the paper version of a university application through their website, or download the Common Application at  The Common Application website includes a list of colleges that accept the Common App.  If your college is not listed, you should choose one of the other options.  It does not matter which application you choose to file, as colleges will consider all of them equal.

If you choose to use the Common Application, you need to fill it out only once, and print a new copy for each college.

Be sure to fill out all of the information requested accurately, and neatly.  Follow instructions completely.  This will be the first impression you make on the application reader.

Make sure you are aware of (and honor) application deadlines.  This may mean mailing applications in well ahead of the deadline.  Be sure you sign each application form, include a check, and ensure that you are sending the correct checks to the correct colleges.  

Keep a copy of your applications.

2. The Essay

Most college require one essay, though some require more, and a few do not require an essay.  General guidelines for writing your essay can be found later in this section.

3. The Secondary School Report (NACAC) Form

You must come to the guidance office to fill out the student section of the Secondary School Report Form (which we refer to as “the NACAC form”).  This form must be submitted to the guidance secretary no later than 30 days prior to each deadline.  You will need to fill out a separate form for each deadline category for which you are applying (i.e. one for early decision, one for early action, one for regular decision).

4. The Teacher Recommendation

Applications usually require 2 teacher recommendations, in addition to the recommendation that your counselor will write.  There are usually teacher recommendation forms included with the application. 

You should choose teachers of different subjects who have taught you recently (between grades 10 – 12) and who know you well as a student.  Teachers will write a single recommendation on your behalf, keep it on file, and send one to each college you request. 

You should speak with your teachers well in advance of the application deadlines (they do have the option of saying “no”).  Once you have teachers lined up, you must give them the forms at least one month prior to the deadline.  Include a stamped, addressed envelope for each college, and a list of your activities, or a resume.

Be courteous in this process—give the teachers as much advance notice as possible.  This will allow them to write a thoughtful, thorough recommendation.

It is also expected that you will inform your recommending teachers of the results of your application.  A thank you note is a nice touch as well.

5. The Transcript

You must submit a “Transcript Release Form” for each college to which you apply.  These forms are to be submitted to the guidance secretary a minimum of 30 days prior to the application deadline.  The guidance counselor will send a transcript (which includes courses and grades from grade 9 – 12) to your college choices, along with a school profile, the NACAC form, and the Counselor Recommendation.  Be sure to submit transcript request forms 30 days prior to the application deadlines.

6. Test Scores

SAT and ACT scores are NOT reported on the DHS transcript. 

Be sure to arrange for your scores to be sent by the College Board or the ACT, directly to each college to which you plan to apply.  You may do this when you register for the tests, or you may do so later. 

You should arrange for your scores to be sent when you take your FINAL test.  If you send your scores in June of junior year, your scores from October and November will not be sent unless you send them again.

  • Keep a list of the colleges to which you have sent your scores

The School Code for Darien High School is 070-145

7. The Interview

About 150 colleges visit Darien High School each fall.  It is in your best interest to attend these meetings when a college on your list is visiting.  A list of upcoming visits is available through Naviance, and students may sign up through Naviance, or in the guidance office.  If you sign up through Naviance, you will receive a reminder email the day before the visit. 

You may choose to interview on campus (see Section 4) or through a local alumni interviewer.  In either case, the notes from the interview will become part of your application file.